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LTA & Sport England to embrace augmented reality for new safeguarding awareness campaign


To mark Parents in Sport Week (7-13 October), the LTA and Sport England have announced they are partnering to launch ‘Safe to Play’, an innovative safeguarding awareness campaign that embraces the latest augmented reality technology to help keep those involved in sport safe.

The campaign is aimed at ensuring all parents, players and coaches are aware of the signs of abuse, how to report a concern and how to keep themselves, children and at-risk adults safe.

To be rolled out across the country from later this year, the campaign will provide all LTA registered venues with pocket-sized cards to distribute to their members, including parents and players. These ‘augmented reality’ cards will act as pocket reminder guides, which when scanned using the camera of a smartphone or tablet will deliver a range of engaging digital resources. Included will be a dramatised video telling one family’s story of abuse in sport, video guides on how to identify the signs of abuse, top tips on how to stay safe in sport, questions to ask when selecting a coach and a quiz to help drive awareness.

In parallel to the distribution of cards to venues for players and parents, every LTA Accredited Coach will be directly sent a card containing safeguarding information relevant to their role, real life case studies and the ability to report a concern to a safeguarding expert at the LTA at the click of a button. The campaign will be supported by a dedicated website, as well as the delivery of a series of ‘Safe to Play’ training and awareness events for venue welfare officers, parents and players throughout 2020.

David Humphrey, Head of Safeguarding at the LTA, said: “Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of those involved in our sport. We have made significant progress over the last few years with tennis now at the forefront of safeguarding in sport. However, abuse can happen anywhere and at any time, and working with Sport England to lead and test an innovative campaign like Safe to Play demonstrates our commitment to helping prevent abuse from happening.”

Great Britain Fed Cup star Harriet Dart has fronted a welcome video for the campaign, which will be displayed when anyone scans the cards.

The British No.3 said: “Everyone in tennis has a vital role to play in keeping children and at-risk adults safe from harm and I am proud to be involved in supporting the campaign. This tool will highlight what everyone can do to help stop abuse happening, and I’d encourage every parent, player and coach to scan a card and find out more.”

The LTA have been selected by Sport England to pilot the Safe to Play campaign in a sports setting, and if successful the project could be rolled out further, with the website and campaign structure designed to be transferrable to other sports.

The NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), who’s work to safeguard children in sport is funded by Sport England, have been consulted on the Safe to Play campaign and the augmented reality work. Alongside the sport-specific testing with tennis, the initial phase of the project has also involved Sport England funding the National Working Group (NWG) to develop communications utilising augmented reality for parents and the sector as a whole.

Alexandra Moore, Head for Children and Young People at Sport England said: “Our job at Sport England is to support more people of all ages and backgrounds to regularly take part in sport and physical activity. Ensuring that people feel safe when they get active is fundamental in achieving our goals and that’s why we have partnered with the LTA, the NWG and the CPSU on this innovative awareness campaign.

“Safe to Play aims to highlight the role everyone involved in sport – parents, players, coaches and volunteers – can play in protecting our children and young people; raising awareness of safeguarding to ensure everyone so that anyone taking part engages in sport and physical activity has a positive experience."

The Safe to Play campaign builds upon the LTA’s implementation of a best in class safeguarding system and procedures over the last three years, recognised by the NSPCC's Child Protection in Sport Unit as 'excellent' across all five areas, the highest possible rating.

The announcement of the campaign comes during the CPSU’s annual ‘Parents in Sport Week’, a national event that looks to increase positive parental involvement in youth sport.

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